by Rod Davis
Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa practice racing their AC72s on the Hauraki Gulf.
Double Olympic medalist and long time US and NZL America's Cup crew, skipper and coach, Rod Davis describes on the benefits of the race training programme with Luna Rossa.
It’s the difference between hitting a tennis ball against the wall vs playing a real tennis match.
That is what it means for Emirates Team New Zealand to train against Luna Rossa.
When we’re race training against another boat, a bad gybe or tack cannot be dismissed as something that doesn’t matter. Everyone can see what it cost in terms of time and distance.
It’s not rocket science: teams training together. Olympians from different countries have joint training programmes before the games but it’s a new concept in the modern America’s Cup where paranoia runs deeper than the ocean.
Training with Luna Rossa will force us to sail better as team. Luna Rossa has immense sailing talent and their boat is the same design as ours (at least for the time being).
Some people think we are training a competitor. They don’t see what we see – opportunity. As sportsmen we have to prepare ourselves to win, then back ourselves to get the job done on race day.
Racing together lifts us both above the other teams putting us in a stronger position to win the America’s Cup. It was satisfying to see that on the first day training with Luna Rossa everything that we, the coaches, had been banging on about became a reality. Little things make little differences, but add them up and they matter.
On board the level of intensity was up five times, so the rate of learning went up five times. This learning is our race within the race. He who learns the fastest will have an advance on judgment day.
It’s a new America’s Cup. Sweeping changes require new thinking, new ways of doing things across the board. From design, to funding, to sailing; past experience must not restrain teams from looking forward and adjusting to the changed environment,
In the coaching and sailing world: When it comes to the taming the big Cat 'keep the blinkers off'.
Echoing in my head is Robert Kennedy’s quote: 'There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? '
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